In A Shot Of Optimism, Uncategorized, What's Holding You Back?

Did you rip off any bandages last week?

Did you sort through the easy-to-postpone things that need to be done now?


Your “do it now list” (the one we talked about last week), gives immediate satisfaction in two ways:  You get the joy of actually doing the thing, and… you get to mark it off the list.  Don’t you just love marking things off the list?  I do.  (Confession:  If I do something that needed doing but didn’t make the list, I go back and put it on the list so I can mark it off – please let me know if you are one of those people!)

But most of us also have that other list.  The big, important list.  Stephen Covey calls this Quadrant 2 – important but not urgent.  Doing them will make a significant difference in our lives, our business, our relationships, our health, or our finances.  We postpone these Quadrant 2 to-dos for two reasons:

1.   They’re Not Urgent
Re-doing your resume, revising your website, cleaning out your basement, writing your book, aren’t really urgent – you can do them today, or you can wait for next week or next month or next year…!  Without a deadline or a specific time dedicated to working on the important stuff, it stays on the to-do list, and never seems to make it onto the calendar.  You can always do it sometime, but sometime is no time.


2.   We Don’t Get to Cross It Off the List… YET!
My book comes out later this year.  But every time I sat down to edit, the process was so complex, I would stop doing it altogether.  The big important things ask for consistent focus, time and energy before you get to mark them off the list.  They often take several steps or even several stages.  The project itself has so many to-dos built-in, every time you think about it, you feel overwhelmed.

So, what’s a gal (or guy…) to do?

Here’s the most productive way I’ve found to get those big Quadrant 2’s actually done:  Find the What, Why, How and When of the project.  This system has worked so well for me and for countless others, I thought it might help you take charge of the important things, too.

  1. WHAT do you want to accomplish?  State it as if it were already true.  I have finished the current re-write and edit of my book.
  2. WHY is it important to you?  I want to feel the immense satisfaction of helping millions of people live the lives they love!
  3. HOW will you accomplish this? What is the first(or next step)?  When I got to the HOW step, I realized I was getting bogged down by the process and needed a printed copy of the book in a 3 –ring binder so I could easily flip back and forth, rather than trying to scroll down on my computer.  With that one step, I was able to move through a big important task that was threatening to drown me!  And then I could sequence the rest:
    • Minor polish of Chapters 1–3 completed by (DATE)
    • Conference call with my editor,
    • Revise Chapter 4–6, completed by (DATE)
    • Find the reference info for Chapter 7
    • And so on
  4. WHEN will you work on it?   Put it in your calendar.  Wednesday, June 4, 9:30–11:30, chapters 1-3.  It’s OK if you don’t know exactly which task may fall in which time block.  Just write the name of the WHAT in that time block.

Any one of these steps might have been hanging you up.  But now that you have them all written down, you can enter Quadrant 2 in style and actually start crossing things off.  Which is so much fun!

Please please share what’s working for you and what’s not!  Everyone has challenges in getting done what’s important to them.  We are all threatened by the tyranny of the urgent.

Just pick ONE important thing on your list this week and give this a try and let me know…

Until next Tuesday.  YIPPEE!



Showing 2 comments
  • Pat O

    Love the “How?” question you ask above. When I need to do something that is important and I find myself procrastinating day by day, I just do one little how thing. As you say, break it down cuz it seems so overwhelming.
    On the book I’m working on…I just open the .doc file and leave it open until I’ve written just one sentence and of douse, that doesn’t happen and I write more than I expected I would..

    • elizabeth

      Thanks Pat.

      You are so right about just doing one tiny thing. It seems to break the dam of resistance.


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